I came to Australia to write a book about home, moving here to search for a definition of the word. Instead, I found it. I see home in the beautiful Opera House that was once, to me, just a picture the fish made in Finding Nemo. I see it in the sunset bat flight at Hyde Park, in the overcrowded shore line of Bondi Beach, in the yellow volleyball nets of Tama. I see it in the familiar and now deepened friendships with Nina and Hannah. And no matter how much it makes me tear up to think of it, I see it in every one of my new friends. In Ernie's hand gestures, in Ryan and Kinga's boundless energy, in Brad's curls, in Lex's Bonds bra, in Rob's rosy cheeks, in Kyle's way of saying chips.
9,935 miles away, homesickness couldn't exist against a beautiful day sailing in Balmoral with Lach, Tom and Hannah, who welcomed Nina and I into their place which we made our own for the first month we were here. Nevs, Nomes and the Manly boys helped me discover that I could encounter home in the most unexpected place — camping. I've never felt a stronger sense of belonging than on my 26th birthday on a boat, cruising by the Sydney skyline with TimTams and papaw (thanks Lucy and Danielle). I found home last Christmas when I spent the morning having breakfast with Matt, Jacqui and her family and then the afternoon playing flip cup with the people who became mine. And honestly, that is what all of you have been — my family.
I came to Australia to figure out how to define home. And for me, it's not a house, a city, or even a place. A 9-year-old child I interviewed yesterday defined home as 'life' and she seems to have sussed everything out 17 years ahead of me. (Private school kid — figures). There's a quote that's been playing on repeat in my head this past week and I hate to be mushy and cliched, but I feel I have to add this: 'Where we love is home. Home that your feet may leave but not your heart.' Thank you all for being my life, my home, and my happiness this year.
As you may have noticed I've been a tad emotional lately. And as much as I'd like to leave gracefully and spend my final days being extra amazing and funny and witty and reminding everyone how much they love me so that when I leave they throw themselves to the ground in anguish, instead I've been a sniffling, needy, desperate mess who shuts cab doors in people's faces because I've decided they haven't sufficiently expressed how much they will miss me. So right now my friends are probably just thinking about how fast they can push me out the door. There are many things about me that have changed but losing my ego and narcissism aren't on that list. So, I'm going to keep making everyone declare their undying devotion, and Ryry, I'm going to take you up on your offer to name the garden after me. But please, if you do get chickens and pigs, I don't want any Lo Juniors running around 123 Blair.
In all seriousness, I am beyond grateful that I have such genuine friends who make saying goodbye seem like the most impossible task. I love you all. And you all better freaking love me right back.
P.S. I'm serious about the garden